After a tumultuous week of protests and failed weekend negotiations with government officials the Israeli Students' Union has decided to continue its strike on Sunday. Five people were injured in protests held last week as students blocking a main traffic route in Tel Aviv clashed with police. The continuing strike calls for significant changes in the planned reform for Israel's higher education system mapped out by the government-established Shochat Committee.
On Friday student representatives met with Emanuel Trachtenberg, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's chief financial advisor, to discuss the crisis. Olmert's office was quick to deny any official meeting had taken place. The students have long since demanded to meet with Olmert in person and present their demands.
"We welcome the willingness to start negotiations, however it must be pointed out that the gaps between the budget we demand for higher education and the Shochat Committee are very large. So long as there is no serious progress and no achivements we will continue the struggle," said student union leader Itay Shonshein.
The students demand that the government return some 1.2 billion to the budget for higher education, funds that have been cut back throughout recent years. The students also lament the intention of the Shochat Committee to raise tuition rates next year.
Universities have said that each passing day on strike jeopardizes the entire academic year and that there is no intention to extend the current semester. "There will be no 'passing grade', no concessions and the scope of the material will not be downsized," threatened the University Heads' Committee.